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Iran’s plants, at Natanz, where uranium is enriched to 5 percent, and at Fordow, where it is enriched to 20 percent — both below weapons grade — are under constant U.N. monitoring. Iran has offered to surrender its 20 percent uranium and cease enriching to that level, if the West will provide isotopes for its nuclear medicine and lift some of the more onerous sanctions.
No deal, says the United States. Iran must give up enrichment entirely and indefinitely.
This is the sticking point in the negotiations. Iran contends that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, she has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. On this, the Iranian people stand behind their government.
Should this deadlock be a cause for war?
Comes the retort: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a certifiable fanatic who has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. He cannot be allowed to get anywhere near a nuclear weapon.
Yet whatever Ahmadinejad said years ago, and that remains in dispute, he does not control the military, he does not decide on war, and he leaves the presidency next July and heads back to academia.
Is America afraid of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
Otto von Bismarck said that preventive war was like committing suicide out of fear of death. Are we Americans headed for yet another unnecessary war?
In 1959, President Eisenhower invited Nikita Khrushchev, the Butcher of Budapest, to the United States for 10 days of touring and talks. In 1972, Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing to toast and talk with Chairman Mao, who was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese and tens of thousands of Americans in Korea. Ronald Reagan sought constantly for an opportunity to sit down across from the rulers of the “evil empire.”
Iran is not remotely in that league, either in crimes attributed to the regime or any actual or potential threat to the United States.
Have we no statesmen who can sit down, like Reagan at Reykjavik, and negotiate with Iran’s leaders for verifiable guarantees that she is not moving to nuclear weapons in return for something approaching normal relations?
If we could sit down with Stalin and Mao, why are the Ayatollah or Ahmadinejad so far beyond the pale? Can we just not handle that?